Archive for category Press

Of a mad man – Ken Agyapong, a twitter bully and the invisible hand of 2012 election connecting them


So I am minding my business as a student and thinking of internships and finals and the coming summer break…

..but here I am blogging about Ghana not because I am feeling nostalgic about a Ghanaian Easter/ Christmas and Azonto dance moves and the things that make me proud to be a Ghanaian but contemplating the implications of Ken Agyapong’s ‘declaration of war‘ in response to allegations of minors registering for the upcoming presidential elections in Ghana.

Arrogance, ignorance and money make for a bad combination in a culture where rich people are celebrated and vested with power. To even read that some persons besieged the Ghana Police Headquarters to demand the release of Ken Agyapong beats my wildest imaginations. I wonder if they understood Ken’s call for people to butcher others with machetes? and what misery a war can bring.

Most NPP politicians have decidedly kept quiet or risen to Ken’s defense or try to dampen the severity of his call for war. How can such a graphic call to war involving slashing fellow Ghanaians with machetes be explained away as ‘metaphorical’ and with no bad intentions? Counsel to Ken or no, Atta Akyea just lost all the respect I had for him as an educated gentleman and lawyer.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”

I applaud all who have roundly called Ken Agyapong’s outburst for what it is and Ghanaian artistes for their quick response and attempt to use social media to call for peace albeit wrongly targeted. The general populace who listen to Ken’s radio are not your usual twitter/facebook fans. Get your music together and do a peace concert. Throw in some Azonto competition and defuse this Ken Agyapong madness.

In other remotely related happenings on twitter in Ghana:

I will decidedly not mention any twitter handles but I think that some celebs shouldn’t ask some persons to campaign for peace in Ghana. People follow people on twitter for different reasons just as houseflies will settle on pastries and cow dung. Point here is that because someone is popular on twitter for breaking gossip doesn’t mean they have legitimacy to ask people to take socially positive action.

“Adjapong might be right. If only NDC didnt allow Togolese people into the border to register to vote all this wont happen!”

The above is what you get. SMH..

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CNN.com hangs Ghanaian youth on bad reporting by motherboard.tv


CNN.com Editor’s note: The staff at CNN.com has been intrigued by the journalism of Vice, an independent media company and Web site based in Brooklyn, New York. Motherboard.tv is Vice’s site devoted to the overlap between culture and technology. The reports, which are being produced solely by Vice, reflect a very transparent approach to journalism, where viewers are taken along on every step of the reporting process. We believe this unique approach is worthy of sharing with our CNN.com readers.

The Background

On 5th April, 2010, an article hit the internet and got the attention of most Ghanaians. The link to Motherboard.tv website was the first that made the rounds and was soundly trashed by most Ghanaians who saw the untruths in the supposed research article. But things soon came to a head when the article showed up on CNN.com on 6th April, 2010 15.30GMT. Before long the story had been twittered and retweeted, the reports read over and again.
At this point most of us were fuming and crying blue murder and uttering expletives behind close doors at the injustice of it all. Didn’t CNN.com see the comments posted by Ghanaians showing their disgust at the inaccuracies and outright lies they found in the article at the time they decided to give it global prominence by featuring it?
Well, the Editor’s note above the motherboard.tv article (Inside the criminal world of Ghana’s e-mail scam gangs) sheds some light on how this situation has come to be and why most people are questioning the editorial policy and agenda of CNN.com. Did it cross the editor’s mind that use of figures like 99% to 1% point to [fallacy of] generalization which is a sign of questionable research methodology? or no research at all? Did he care to google to see our presidential palace?

CNN.com’s stance

How an editor would make a decision to give an article about the youth of Ghana and Ghanaian society such prominence just because ”the staff at CNN.com has been intrigued by the journalism of Vice…” also intrigues me; beats me that thoroughness and honesty was put aside in this case in favour of curiosity and fascination. Is it a coincidence that another definition of intrigue is: make secret plans to do something illicit or detrimental to someone? Does the proximity between the dates of publishing on the respective sites indicate a planned thing? For the conspiracy theorists and linguistics among us, let us ponder this together.

By featuring this article on CNN.com the editor has endorsed Thomas Morton (aka Baby Balls) and his media company and lent them CNN’s credibility if not in all past and future articles, at least in this particular one. To wit, CNN.com is telling us that ‘we would have come to same conclusion if we undertook a research on Sakawa in Ghana’. But in the same breathe the editor manages to insert a caveat (The reports, which are being solely produced by Vice…) distancing CNN.com from any future questioning of the accuracy of the content of Vice’s Motherboard.tv report. Same device is employed again in the note (We believe this unique approach is worthy of sharing with our CNN.com readers) where the Editor endorses the methodology but not the article explicitly. Now isn’t that interesting? One has to leave a wriggle room when things come to a head. Nice job!

When African culture and social structures are viewed and reported through the lens of a young man (Thomas Morton) whose expertise some years back was reporting on sex, drugs and rock music and not done with honest research but with misrepresentations, you bet some of us will show our displeasure.

The Journalist, Thomas Morton

I did a little research about Thomas Morton but didn’t get much by way of his academic background but got interesting facts like his sobriquet, Baby Balls; because he happens to be a vertically challenged man who lives on the edge and challenges the status quo of investigative journalism. He did a report on pollution of the sea and his video report was noted to be laden with so many expletives that his point couldn’t be carried across to the intended student audience. I’ll only say that he’s an interesting fellow with a background in investigating sex, drugs and rock music. Please check for yourself if you care.

Thomas has used unrelated imagery to make his point.

It is interesting to see Thomas dancing with a fetish priest in a possible sakawa ritual? Is that the evidence he has as proof of an underground economy rife with mysticism and sacrifices and blood rituals? I can offer without being there that what he partook of is a mini-durbar or some other traditional occasion. I can assure him that the priests who work in this cyber-juju industry have a cruel air to them and don’t dance for public viewing and no, they don’t dance with white men because they’re undertaking some research.

It is sad that Thomas will misrepresent a traditional cultural event as a blood ritual for sakawa purposes. This is a betrayal of the trust of the elders who gave him the opportunity to experience first hand the rich cultural practices and heritage in Ghana. You can’t expect better from someone who wanted to get his video out anyhow, with cooked up evidence or not.

I can see an internet cafe from a thousand miles and that picture of a man clicking away at a pc is not one of an internet cafe; it is someone’s office. Internet cafes are crammed places whether in Ghana or in the States. What has a birds-eye view of a sprawling slum, refuse dump and a trotro station somewhere in Accra got to do with anything, if not to create in the minds of his audience a bleak economic situation that in his assertion can and is leading Ghanaian youth to take up Sakawa full-time.

It is very easy for Thomas to attribute his perceived pervasive sakawa practice among Ghanaian youth to corruption among the elite without providing any evidence. As Graham Knight noted,”distortions, exaggerations and untruths come easy when reporting Africa because they build upon a set of common themes [entrenched in western media] in which certain stereotypes are taken for granted”.

On my behalf and on behalf of other bloggers and Ghanaian youth who feel globally humiliated because of CNN.com editor’s gross neglect of journalistic ethics of due diligence and fair and objective reporting, I request that
1. Mr. Thomas Morton’s report be taken off CNN.com if blogposts condemning his report will not be given same prominence or,
2. Blogposts from Ghana or by Ghanaians condemning Mr. Thomas Morton’s report be allowed to run alongside it and,
3. CNN.com (CNN BackStory team) sponsors a project with the soon to be registered Ghanablogging community to undertake a thorough research into the sakawa phenomenon.

In conclusion I will say that there are more aspiring footballers in Ghana than there will ever be sakawa-money hungry boys because our professional footballers plying their trade in Europe are better role models and have more money. Oh Mr. Morton wouldn’t know that because he is not a fan of football, my bad, soccer!

FOOTNOTE:

Preamble to SPJ Code of Ethics: Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behaviour and adopt this code to declare to Society’s principles and standards of practice.

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The double-edged sword of technology – case of sexually abused University of Ghana student


I have been reading a lot of blog posts (DAIXY, Dustyfootgirl, CriticalPoint)and comments about the case of Amina and one thing is clear, most people clearly and unequivocally denounce the actions of the Mensah Sarbah hall students who took the law into their own hands and sexually assaulted a fellow student who they had caught stealing.

What led to this blog post were a couple of comments by (mostly) some men that this case of Amina [sexual assault] is being given too much attention and blown out of proportion. What you find common in their comment is that Amina is getting so much attention because it is a case of a woman, or in some cases saying that same noise would not be made if it was a man who was [sexually] assaulted (by other men or women?).

This argument, I think reflects a general mindset of some men who feel threatened by womens’ rights and pro-feminist [affirmative] actions or a denouncement of any male testosterone-charged acts of folly that in their minds is their privilege.

But this blog post is not about such men who can’t distinguish a condemnation of an ACT as heinous as the one perpetuated from a feminist agenda. This is about the role of technology in the unique context of a sexual assault case caught on tape, shared over the internet and the issues arising.

Technology has played an important role albeit positive and negative.

1. It has given a wider audience an opportunity to see an act so heinous we’re all reeling from the effect of a wanton display of human rights abuse.

2. It has preserved forever a traumatic experience of an individual.

3. It has brought to the fore the human taste for the morbid and also brought out the best of/multiple human emotions including fear, empathy and need for justice.

4. It has helped open an opportunity for mob-justice to be seen and addressed.

I am among the many people who have witnessed ponding, [as I described in my previous post] but like most of you, we have not seen it on YouTube. I can barely recollect the faces or names of the few guys I witnessed going through a ponding session and somehow I am happy for it. Whoever underwent ponding for theft wouldn’t have to relive that experience every time they saw the video somewhere. The internet is like an echo that never ends; an echo that is carried on and on; an echo that is reechoed just when one thinks the sound is dying down. Amina will forever remain in the minds of people because of this video but also she will relive the experience whenever she sees the video reported on the news, mentioned in a conversation or even intimated in a conversation that her ordeal was ever captured on video and probably residing on people’s hard drives and phones.

The human taste for the morbid is a paradox. We feed on tragedy but don’t want to be in them. We have to even exercise restraint to not go back to see this video as is the case of most people [who for bizarre reasons still have the video sitting on their desktops]. As Daixy said in her post, it was scary how fast the video went viral. Would people have recommended the video so fast and with glee if it were something intellectually challenging or even a newly discovered animal or natural phenomenon? I think not!! Some of the comments I saw on twitter and facebook made me wonder if some of those people would have acted any differently from the assaulters of Amina and the possibility that some might have still scares me.

But there are positives that should be highlighted, credit that can be given to technology [not to mention the fool who decided to video it for his private/ viral/ public consumption of mob-justice]. The video can lead to the apprehension of some students (witnesses or perpetrators) and help in investigations that will? (may) ultimately lead to justice for Amina and the correction of a wrong that shouldn’t have happened in the first place, on a university campus of all places.

Technology has brought to light something that most of us would never have had the opportunity to see or to even appreciate the gravity of. That in itself is not a benefit but it definitely serves as a call to action and will forever gnaw at the minds of people in authority till they do something in response that will be measured in the public eye as a commensurate response to the ordeal Amina went through.

Our attitude to mob-justice has been challenged to the core by the video we saw. The campaigners against mob-justice now have a powerful tool to highlight their point. Our own fears of the [remote] possibility of us or someone we know suffering same ordeal has rocked us to the core as it should. In a call for justice for Amina we’re acting on a natural instinct of self-preservation. No one wants to go this way.

I must say that I have not seen the gory details of the whole video [save for the edited version I watched with Graham on TV3] and whiles I can’t get Amina’s look of sheep-caught-in-the-midst-of-wolves out of my mind, I am grateful I know people whose judgment and [emotional] response I can trust. I have seen human empathy at its best, demonstrated through a thorough condemnation and show of disgust at the ill-treatment of Amina through blog posts, radio call-ins and general discussions. Someone told me, ‘please don’t watch the video if you haven’t seen it’; it is that bad and can take one through a rollercoaster of emotions.

In conclusion however, I will want a few persons who think this issue is being given too much attention to think these through. Would they rather this had happened to a man for them to gauge public response? Would they rather physical damage be done to Amina to finally get them to lend their FULL voice to the campaign for justice?

No, I can assure you Amina has been psychologically scarred enough [ and will need all the support the University of Ghana guidance and counseling session can give her.] No, I don’t need to see another video of a human being fending off many hands from different directions in a bid to not drown in the furor of tugging and poking. No, I don’t want to see another person fighting to maintain their personal dignity against a throng that will not give ear to their pleas for mercy.

Amina wasn’t given a chance but technology has now given us a chance to call for justice for Amina; justice that through our indifference towards mob-justice was denied her the moment she was caught in an act of theft. An opportunity to call on the police to get closer to the public, hold citizens’ arrest trainings and other ways to manage thieves. An opportunity to call on the University of Ghana authorities to put policies in place and spearhead a national discourse on [stopping] mob-justice and by so calling these people to action, we will be securing the lives of our friends and loved ones.

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University of Ghana students’ justice gone bad


Until the case of the sexual abuse of an alleged female student-thief [as reported by Citifm], I would have argued that University of Ghana students’ justice was one of the fairest and even something one could call spectacular and fun if you are an outsider [and not the perpetrator]. But the actions of the students (men) of the Mensah Sarbah Hall has left a sour taste in my mouth and that of any person looking up to graduates of the university to be future leaders of Ghana.

University of Ghana students’ justice works this way; when a student steals from a colleague and caught with stolen goods or red-handed, two options are presented to the perpetrator. They are either reported to the school authorities or ‘ponded’. In effect, the perpetrator is presented with the option of rustication/suspension (as stated in the University of Ghana handbook and determined by the university authorities) or humiliation at the hands of fellow students.

Actually all students accused of theft are entitled to a hearing by the university authorities and with so many witnesses to a case of theft [as is often the case with about 5 roommates], it is a given that the said student-thief would be rusticated or suspended after a hearing. Students’ justice is actually not a response to the university’s perceived perversion of justice as has often been the argument for mob justice in the world outside the university walls. Students’ justice is a show of solidarity and to a large extent a support system which seeks to help the perpetrator of theft to still maintain his scholarship.

So it is not surprising that most students who find themselves at this cross-road of choice of justice will prefer students’ justice because it will probably save them [2 years] from rustication and having to explain to their families why they’re suddenly out of school.

At this point the student-thief is stripped to his boxer-shorts or shorts and put on a truck (cart) and pushed to the pond at the entrance of the university amidst chanting of war songs. It is at the pond that the student-thief’s crimes are called out and then dipped into the grimy pond (and mud) and that is what is called ponding. The journey back to the hall is led by the student-thief who pushed the truck (cart) followed by his colleagues [who happen to be his judges] and that short ceremony/spectacle albeit humiliating serves as a better deterrent for other students and in the eyes of students justice is done without messing the student-thief’s academic life.

In the annexes, the student-thief is typically brought out to the parking lot of the 5-storey building and splashed with water from buckets. After this public display of ‘punishment’, judgment is done.

What most of us never envisioned whiles in school was a lady being dragged thru the school in her panties to the pond at the university gate to be ponded. And I still can’t imagine what form of students’ justice can be meted out to a lady if she was caught with stolen goods. But I never in my wildest and craziest dreams imagine what happened at the Mensah Sarbah Hall of the University of Ghana. Besides breaking every rule in the books of the country and the university, it has also brought shame to alumni of the university as a whole and the hall in particular.

What these students have done has jarringly brought into the university what has been happening in their neighbourhoods. To wit – kill the thief; lynch the thief; no need for the police. And this scares me above all things; that students who are supposed to bring enlightenment to the world have somehow allowed themselves to be swayed by the unenlightened thoughtless actions of the unwashed masses that they are supposed to positively influence.

What happened to Integri Procidamus? What does it mean to be a Viking now?

By this gruesome treatment meted out to an alleged female student-thief, you have put the University of Ghana in a bad light that will not only reflect badly on your own futures but that of all alumni and alumnae.

Two things must happen of a necessity because of this gruesome justice meted to the female student.

  1. An official denouncement of the actions of the students by the university authorities and all student bodies.
  2. The men responsible for sexually abusing this female student should be sacked by the school and handed over to the police for them to deal with them in order to send out a clear message to the world and rest of Ghana that instant justice of any form cannot be condoned in a community (country) that is governed by law.

But I ask myself, how can this happen in the University of Ghana of all places and I come to the conclusion that allowing students to have their own form of justice can lead to this case we currently have on our hands that has hit the whole nation like a sucker punch.

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Laugh a Minute – PG13?


I’ve been watching too much TV lately. Viasat1 is fast becoming the channel of choice.

David Oscar (you know, that dude who did the Tigo Number 1 commercial?) and Laugh a Minute, NICE, well not really.
The funny videos are so stale and were viral some 10 or so years back, but still guarantees a good laugh.
I’ve been laughing along with him since the premier
BUT

I fear I am becoming a sadist every time I laugh at someone bonking their head or slipping? After a long good laugh, I ask myself, ‘What was funny about that fall? Was it really funny, someone falling? I actually think Oscar is feeding my sadistic tendencies by giving me a daily supply of masochistic/home accidents/recreational accidents caught on video.

But how can I fault myself when the studio audience always respond with a rapturous laughter? How can’t I follow suit? Isn’t laughter infectious?

I’m sure some clueless parents don’t realize this programme should have a PG13 rating and I shudder to imagine some kid watching unsupervised will laugh at his colleague’s misfortune in school and get a good scolding or lose a good friendship.

Will you want your kid to laugh when someone falls? or rather say sorry like well mannered kids should?

PS. A bird whispered in my ears that I’ve been laughing with an automated electronic audience.

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